Meet the new Monica Lewinsky. Jessica Cutler, a 24-year-old mailroom clerk and phone receptionist, worked for Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, until last Friday -- when he fired her for using Senate computers to post to an Internet Web log that chronicled her trysts with six different men in Washington. Cutler's partners reportedly included government officials who gave her money for her sexual services.
Diary excerpt: "I just took a long lunch with F and made a quick $400. When I returned to the office, I heard that my boss was asking about my whereabouts. Loser." In another entry, Cutler explains: "F(equals)Married man who pays me for sex. Chief of Staff at one of the gov agencies, appointed by Bush."
Cutler, who aspired to be a journalist, spouted: "I'm sure I am not the only one who makes money on the side this way: How can anybody live on $25K/year??" When I was 24 and making less than that, I did it by eating Spaghetti-O's, Ramen noodles and Swanson pot pies for dinner; driving a Toyota Tercel with no air conditioning; and sleeping on a $30 futon. I did it the way most parents teach their daughters to succeed: through hard work, thrift, faith and perseverance.
I don't usually write about such inside-the-Beltway gossip, but Cutler's indecent conduct, glib rationalizations and in-your-face shamelessness, and the accompanying feeding frenzy over her, deserve a firm outside-the-Beltway lashing. This vulgar little episode reflects a larger, disturbing media trend toward normalizing and glamorizing sexual promiscuity among young working women. It harms those trying to succeed on their merits in the professional arena.
And it also harms our own daughters, who will be forced to fight harder to protect their dignity and credibility in a "Girls Gone Wild" culture.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post featured Cutler, who dubbed herself and her online diary "Washingtonienne," in a prominent story last Sunday headlined "The Hill's Sex Diarist Reveals All (Well, Some)." Cutler posed for a fetching photo and supplied juicy soundbites. "It's so cliched. It's like, 'There's a slutty girl on the Hill?' There's millions of 'em," Cutler told the Washington Post's Richard Leiby. Millions? Follow-up dispatches appeared in Roll Call, the New York Post, the London Independent, United Press International and the Associated Press, whose wire reports on Cutler were reprinted everywhere from the Akron Beacon Journal to the Houston Chronicle to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The news media originally caught whiff of Cutler from an online D.C.-based gossip site, Wonkette.com, authored by "edgy" (read: profanity-laced and sex-obsessed) writer Ana Marie Cox, who herself has been recently touted extensively by adoring media fans. CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen hosted a tony party for Cox last month; Washington Post reporter Howard Kurtz invited her on his CNN show, where she boasted, "I'm the expert at talking dirty."
Cutler and Cox, 31, appeared together on Fox News Channel this week, where they giggled and guffawed and rolled their eyes as they reveled in their sleazy celebrity. When Fox anchor Brigitte Quinn (who deserves a medal for her restraint) asked Cutler whether her parents knew about her raunchy sex life, she snorted: "They do now!" Cox cackled and went on to coo about Cutler's writing talent and future book publishing prospects. Cox generously mentioned she didn't want too much "credit" for Cutler's newfound notoriety. ("Credit?" Quinn mused subtly. "That's an interesting word.")
This female Beavis and Butthead duo illustrate what normal Americans hate about the Capitol scene: narcissism, moral bankruptcy and self-congratulatory media-political incest. The Washington Post's legitimization of this shallow "story" illustrates something else: the mainstream media's perverted moral values. The paper's recent profiles and features of social conservatives drip with condescension and ridicule. Religious activists are portrayed as intolerant homophobes; Republicans as gun-toting rubes; abstinence promoters as freaks.
But give The Washington Post two vain, young, trash-mouthed skanks who couldn't care less about what their parents think of their sex-drenched infamy, and the newspaper can't wait to help make them full-fledged members of the media elite.
Cutler and Cox apparently have no trouble looking at themselves in the mirror every morning. I pity the mainstream journalists-turned-pimps who can do the same.